During the lecture, Reverend Lawson shared the struggles of nonviolence that he has been through as an American activist and leader within the Civil Rights Movement. He recognized the extent to which nonviolence struggles are “ancient” and tend to be forgotten over time. He explained that the first labor strike that happened in Egypt in 1170 was never recorded nor normally taught in public schools or universities. Reverend Lawson revealed that Los Angeles was also an “anti-labor organization” until recently when there are 300 unions and over 800,000 people in these unions.
Reverend Lawson also discussed the power of students in leading UCLA to become the “founding university for DACA” (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). He believes that DACA was a gift from the students and not a gift from the congress of the United States or state government. “No one is undocumented,” stated Reverend Lawson. “Creation [is] power that we of the human race have never seriously tapped,” he added while referring to Mahatma Gandhi as a role model and “father of the science of the nonviolence struggle.”
Towards the end of his speech, Reverend Lawson shared a story of his childhood memory. In Ohio 1932, he lived in a neighborhood where racism was prevalent despite unsegregated schools. When he was eight years old, he remembers “smacking” a white American friend for calling him a “vicious racist epithet.” Now, Reverend Lawson says “love is a far more powerful force than hate” and also a better way to deal with racism and prejudice. Reverend Lawson ended with a final note that we ought to give nonviolence theory practice and struggle a serious hearing.
Abel Valenzuela, professor at UCLA, introduced the State Senator Maria Elena Durazo who has not only impacted the city of Los Angeles, but also thousands of workers over 30 years. Durazo began her speech by acknowledging and thanking all the people who have helped and worked with her to where she is now.